Music review by Luchae Williams
The Passion worship team is well known for their big arena live recordings – a sound captured in huge stadiums such as Loftus Versveld and Cape Town Stadium recently with thousands of worshipers singing along. But, this time around, they decided to do something a little differently with latest offering, ‘Salvation tide is rising.’ Instead of the usual big arena, 18 tracked album, they trimmed it all the way down to a neat 10-track studio recording, released months before the actual 2016 conference actually launched. Passion City Church founder, Louie Giglio, explains: “Normally at Passion, we always get to these arenas, fill them up with people, we record all of it and then we make a record. And we start right away making a record…But it still takes 2 or 3 months to get the record done, finished, mixed, mastered, uploaded to iTunes, and on iTunes. And so it’s March or April before we are celebrating all the new songs we heard at a Passion event in January…This year it’s a little different of a playbook and I love it. We have already recorded a Passion album!”
The worship ensemble has been around for almost 20 years, gathering students from around the world to see the name of Jesus praised. You may be familiar with some of their previously released anthems such as ‘God of this city’, ‘My heart is Yours’ and the latest ‘Even so come.’ Released in January 2016, ‘Salvation tide is rising’ clinched the number 3 slot in album sales on the iTunes charts a few days following it’s first release, and welcomes back amazing Passion regulars such as Kristian Stanfill, Chris Tomlin, Crowder, Mat Redman and vocal dynamo, Christy Nockels.
Familiar but different
Musically, the album is pretty safe and will be a familiar space for Passion fans and followers, but at the same time it is different in that the recordings are clean and to the point. This might work better for those who feel the lengthy live recording cuts to be a bit extensive. Stanfill opens the album with the contemporary, synth infused, worship track, ‘Salvation’s tide,’ followed by the ever diverse, David Crowder, with anthemic ballad ‘My victory’ – a typical Easter themed worship track.
I enjoyed Brett Younker and the declarative song, ‘Remember’, that says “Down in the valley/Where waters rise/I’m still believing/Hope is alive!” With a really catchy melody and fairly simply instrumentation, this is another song that could work on your Easter set lists. Passion newcomer, Jimi Cravity, creates a beautiful moment on the album in worship track, ‘Surrender’, with warm vocals that complement the timeless message of surrendering your life to Christ.
Passion legends, Matt Redman and Chris Tomlin, only feature once – both contributing worthy additions to the album. Tomlin’s track, ‘God and God alone’, is an anthemic worship track that could fit onto just about any Sunday morning set list. Redman’s track, ‘I turn to Christ’, is also a worship cut, but has a more emotive and expressive feel to it, with a lyric that says “And I turn and turn to Christ alone/I surrender all/I surrender!”
Many have been swooning over Melodie Malone’s ‘Simple pursuit’ – and rightly so. This beautiful, effortless piece speaks about going back to our first love to “An unspoken faith in the power of your name/our heart beating for Your kingdom to reign!” This is one to listen out for. It’s probably my favorite song on the whole album.
As always, the lovely Christy Nockels does not disappoint, with her commanding vocals in ‘Your grace amazes me.’ The only reworked track on the album is the closer, one of my absolute favorites: ‘Good, good Father’ of House Fires fame. Since its release last year (on multiple albums, mind you) this song has captured the cries of thousands of hearts that resonate with the one true fact that we serve a Daddy God and He loves to be in relationship with us. The album could not have ended in a better way!
All in all I found the newest Passion album to be somewhat different to their usual offerings, with the studio element playing a big role in the feel of the album, for me. The songs, however, still come across as ‘congregation friendly’ (as is the Passion style) with simple melodies and clean, easy lyrics that are scripturally sound. I must admit, I enjoy the live worship experience which their previous conference recordings carry, but the quality, in the songs and production on this album, makes up for that in many ways.